|December 15, 2001
Death of Mainza Chona
Zambias liberation leader and first prime minister, Mainza Chona, died
on December 11, in a South African hospital where he was taken for an
operation. Zambian President Chiluba has declared Sunday, December 16, as the
day for national mourning for the late Chona.
Chonas actual age was not known, but his family believed he was
born around 1930. Chona was the founding president of the former ruling United
National Independence Party (UNIP). He relinquished power to his close friend,
Kenneth Kaunda, who became the first Zambian president. Chona was one of
Zambia's most respected citizens. He served in various government positions.
Most recently, he was ambassador to China until 1992, when President Frederick
Chiluba recalled him. He was also a leading opposition lawyer in the country,
who worked on many high-profile cases, including the defense of soldiers who
attempted to overthrow Chiluba in 1997. Chona was also among elders who
initiated moves to bring all the political parties in Zambia together in a bid
to resolve conflicts before general elections due to be held on December 27.
Election observers from southern Africa, Europe, and the United States
have arrived in Zambia to monitor general elections on December 27, officials
said Tuesday. A 24-member team of parliamentarians from the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) countries has already arrived and will stay until
December 30, said Titi Pitso, spokeswoman for the SADC Parliamentary Forum. The
SADC observers will fan out through Zambia's nine provinces to assess the
situation on the ground ahead of the presidential, parliamentary and municipal
elections. That team comprises MPs from Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi,
Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, Pitso
A US-based election monitoring group, the Carter Center, also has opened
a full-time mission in Zambia to observe the polls. The European Union
Electoral Unit (EUEU) has dispatched about 50 international long-term election
observers in different parts of Zambia, while another 100 were expected before
the vote, an official said.